Gardening myths debunked by Oregon State University Extension Service experts
Neil Bell, OSU Extension horticulturist. MYTH: Brown recluse and hobo spiders are common in Oregon. REALITY: It is commonly thought that hobo and brown recluse spiders cause necrotic bites in this state, when in fact the brown recluse is not found in
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When planting a shrub, don't just add soil amendment to the hole before you backfill. The soil should be amended on an area-wide basis, not just in a planting hole, otherwise roots may stay within the amended soil and not grow into the native soil, creating a root-bound plant within the amended soil of the planting hole. (Alysha Beck/2012) Reality can get skewed when there are so many sources of information - books, magazines, newspapers, nurseries and, most of all, the internet and social media open up lots of room for contradiction. Nine experts from Oregon State University Extension Service stepped up to bust some common gardening myths. For additional questions, call the OSU Extension master gardeners in your area. MYTH: You should top a tree to control its height. REALITY: Trees are programed to attain a certain height. The resulting sucker growth, which grows rapidly in an attempt to provide food for the compromised root system, is weakly attached. Additionally, the trunk is not a limb and cannot use the tree's architectural physiology to seal the wound caused by topping. This often leads to a slow death for the tree. MYTH: Lime will remove moss from your lawn. REALITY: Lime will not fix the problem. Moss prefers to grow in wet, shady conditions. Lawns with moss need more sunlight, i. e. trimming, pruning and thinning trees. If you like the trees the way they are you will continue to have moss and you should think about shade-tolerant alternatives to grass. Moss also grows well in infertile soils, which includes acidic (low pH) soils, but more importantly it also includes nitrogen-deficient soils. Lawns, like a lot of cultivated plants prefer nitrogen-rich soils. Regular fertilizer applications (four applications per year, two in the fall and two in the spring) with products containing nitrogen, combined with improved sunlight will result in a green, dense lawn that can out compete moss. MYTH: Ponderosa pine needles make the soil more acidic (low pH). REALITY: The notion that pine needles change the soil pH so that nothing will grow or that it will damage plants has been out there for years. The truth is pine needles do not make the soil more acidic. It is true that pine needles have a pH of 3. 2 to 3. 8 (neutral is 7. 0) when they drop from a tree. If you were to take the freshly fallen needles (before the needles decompose) and turn them into the soil right away, you may see a slight drop in the soil pH, but the change would not be damaging to the plants. For those of you that leave the needles there on the ground, they will begin to break down naturally and the microbes (decomposers) in the soil will neutralize them. They are a good mulching material that will keep the moisture in, suppress weeds and eventually add nutrients back to the soil. You can also add them to a compost pile. A general rule of thumb is not to add more than 10 percent of pine needles to your compost pile. If you are having difficulty growing other plants under your pine trees it is likely due to the fact that evergreen roots are numerous and shallow and compete for water and nutrients. The shady conditions under a tree cans also make growing other plants a challenge. - Amy Jo Detweiler, OSU Extension horticulturist. MYTH: Just add more compost to the soil. REALITY: Adding organic matter to soil in the form of compost helps to improve soil structure and promote long-term plant health, but adding too much compost at once or over time can lead to problems. If the soil organic matter is much higher than ideal (5 to 8 percent), the soil can have too much available phosphorus, which can stunt plant growth and potentially leach into the water table. Also, some composts can be high in salts, which can also impact plant growth. - Weston Miller, OSU Extension horticulturist. MYTH: Bee houses help promote and conserve bee diversity. REALITY: Although some bee species nest in the cavities provided by bee houses, most bee species nest in the ground. Research out of Canada shows that most cavities in bee houses are colonized by native wasps (that help control pests), and not native bees.
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Neil Bell - IMDb
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